"Yes, yes, I'm listening."
A Scottish barrister joked that he'd like to "shag" the head of a rape charity "just to have something over her", it has emerged.
In October 2020, Brian McConnachie QC sent a text claiming that another advocate had confided in him that they wanted to have sex with the Chief Executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, Sandy Brindley. McConnachie added in his text, "I might shag her, just to have something over her, but I wouldn’t enjoy it", reported the Daily Record.
A woman to whom he sent his WhatsApp messages complained to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, and the matter was referred to a disciplinary committee convened by the Faculty of Advocates.
The committee concluded that because it was a "private" communication and only related to McConnachie’s "feelings and wishes" about "hypothetical sexual activity that he might engage in", McConnachie's comment was not "serious and reprehensible" enough to comprise professional misconduct.
However, he was found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct for passing on the "distasteful and base" comment reportedly made by the other QC, who was only identified in proceedings as 'Mr A' and described as a "high profile criminal advocate". The Faculty said McConnachie demonstrated "disloyalty" to his fellow QC by sharing the remark, which could have harmed the reputation of Mr A and the Faculty if it had been circulated, and which Mr A may not have actually made.
The Faculty also cleared McConnachie of several other complaints. On the same day McConnachie texted about Brindley, he also sent a sexually explicit photo from the toilets of Livingston’s High Court to a woman, telling her that he was aroused.
McConnachie had just finished defending a rape accused when he sent the picture, but told the committee it was a private matter which it had no authority to investigate. The committee dismissed the complaint against the advocate, agreeing with McConnachie that because the picture was sent at 4.01pm, a minute after the court day ended, he had not been sexting while still engaged with client business.
The Faculty also dismissed complaints about texts in which McConnachie boasted that he had engaged in sexual activity around various court buildings with seven different colleagues, including a trainee and several barristers, accepting McConnachie’s defence that "the claims were fantasy and that the sexual acts described did not actually happen".
However, the committee did find the QC guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct for calling a client a "lying cunt", reported the Record. The Committee decided that insulting a client in such crude terms was beneath the standard expected of "reputable advocates".
The Faculty’s judgment was slammed by the complainant, who said "Their priority has been to protect their own", and indicated she would appeal.
Rape Crisis Scotland is also furious. A spokesperson said the comments "directed towards our Chief Executive" were "unacceptable", and "expose a culture of misogyny amongst some members of the Faculty of Advocates", laying bare "an environment where entitled, arrogant attitudes and behaviours are clearly present".
"For senior members of the Faculty to discuss our staff in such a sexist and demeaning way is deplorable", said the charity. "Sexist attitudes like these should have no place within the legal profession. If senior QCs are comfortable conversing about someone they have held a professional external relationship with then this raises serious concerns about how they will behave towards other women they encounter, including women entering the profession, or women that they cross examine in sexual offence cases".
Rape Crisis Scotland said it was "calling on the Faculty and other legal professional bodies on Scotland to commit to taking urgent action to address the misogynistic attitudes which clearly exist within the profession".
RollOnFriday has learned that the judgment was leaked, and was only intended to be made public once any sentence imposed by the Faculty had been made. A Faculty spokesperson told RollOnFriday, "As the process is ongoing it would not be appropriate for Faculty to comment on this matter, beyond confirming it is correct to say that a finding of Unsatisfactory Professional Conduct had been determined regarding Brian McConnachie QC".
McConnachie did not respond to a request for comment.
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